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No sense in catch, release, kill

May 16, 2009

Lots of experienced fishermen take great pride in subduing a large fish on a skinny rod and light line. I am one of them.

I get a real charge in watching a small reel full of line disappear rapidly before my eyes and the sounds of a screaming drag is sweet music to be sure. I typically use the smallest tackle available to me to get the most fight from my fish. You won't find many heavy rods on my boat.

Small diameter lines allow me to cast farther and are less visible to the fish. I get more hookups because of this. An experienced angler can subdue huge fish on thin lines if there is enough open water available and the fish can be kept on the hook long enough during the extended fight.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

I have caught many good-sized tarpon on 12- and 14-pound test line over the years. That is a real test of any angler's skills to be sure.

There is a downside to this type of angling feat. It's called outright death, or in most cases delayed mortality, especially with big fish in hot water. A large tarpon fought for an hour or more in 90-degree water runs a good risk of dying after it is released. In that weakened state it certainly runs the risk of becoming shark bait.

Nowadays, I fish tarpon with heavier rods and release them sooner, healthier and happier than when I was young and needed to prove my angling skills.

There is no sense in killing a 50-year-old fish to boost my ego. I already know I'm a good angler and now I would rather catch the fish again and preserve the resource. Something to consider during the upcoming summer months.

Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider Charters reports HOT fishing for reds and snook on potholes off the mangroves on whitebait; keeper trout on deeper grass flats off the intracoastal and lots of sharks around the passes. Cut ladyfish and mackerel work great. One shark per person or two per boat.

Bleed a shark immediately and put it on ice ASAP if you intend to eat it. No ice? Do not keep it.

Tarpon all along the intracoastal are feeding on whitebait.

Capt. Doug Root out of D&D in Matlacha is using shrimp under a cork for trout at the power lines. Catching redfish under the mangroves on high tides on cut baits and tarpon all over the place chasing whitebaits.

Capt Rob Modys of SoulMate Charters weighs in with tarpon and sharks, and lots of them - blacktips, lemons, spinners and bulls. Put cut bait in the water for tarpon and expect some company from Mr. Jaws. He likes cut ladyfish, and chunks of Spanish macs for bait, and a small, live-lined Spanish usually will call in a huge shark as well as tarpon.

Snook and reds are on oyster bars in Estero Bay and Kingfish on May Reef.

Capt. Roy Bennett of Hot One ll Charters has had a good week with tarpon and sharks in the sound. Blacktips and lemons have been abundant for his clients along with a throwback 31.5-inch cobia, plus a complaint about some tarpon fisherman.

"One annoying thing this week has been the drifting and trolling motor 'livie' fishermen," said Capt. Bennett. "These fishermen, with the spaghetti rods think they are not hurting the anchored tarpon fisherman, have another think coming. If they want to fish these light rods and endanger our tarpon by fighting them for an hour, do so away from anchored boats. There were many arguments this week, myself included. Have a little courtesy."

There are plenty of tarpon and plenty of water to catch them in. Why drift or fight a fish through anchored boats?

Have fun and play nice!

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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